It strikes me as a desperate and last minute, the marketing of myriad packaged pumpkin products. It’s been a common complaint in the atmosphere this year; the glut of boxed and bottled items on the shelves of our grocery stores. Of course pumpkin flavor is really that of warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice. Real, raw pumpkin itself tastes like…not much. Mash. Mush. Pleasantly, very mildly sweet and fibrous. Like wet leaves from an autumn storm. The kind that get stuck on your shoes in October.
The pumpkin flavoring trend has been condemned as “basic” or bourgeois, a word that already exists in our lexicon. It’s easy to like and middle of the road, enjoyed by many. I like the hell out of pumpkin stuff. Maybe it’s part of the secularization of society. We don’t have a lot of rituals and traditions imbued with religious significance, so we need consumer cues to mark the season. We need a reason to feel and connect to the earth. And if we have nothing else we have a warm mug of fall coziness to curl up inside. This does not bother me.
Most of us are using fewer mixes and shelf-stable processed nonsense. More real food. Saying no to preservatives and questionable ingredients. So they – the nefarious amorphous body of them – create some novelty stuff to sell us, adding a few dollars to the grocery bill. There’s pumpkin coffee and pumpkin cereal, almonds, hummus, potato chips, vodka, gum, ice cream, pasta, gelatin, granola bars, frosting, and beer. It’s always best to buy as few of those things as possible. But a few pumpkin spiced lattes never hurt anyone.
I used canned pumpkin in this recipe. But you can absolutely use fresh sugar pie pumpkins, roasted and scooped out. I think this would be a cozy family dinner to make before trick or treating or for breakfast the morning after, like a child’s version of hair of the dog. Chop up chocolate bars and add them to the mix! These pancakes are delicious all by themselves but of course we gilded the lily with melted butter, warm maple syrup, and whipped cream. A whiskey cream would dress them up for grown-ups.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 1¼ cups pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Butter, maple syrup, and whipped cream, to serve
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir in chocolate chips.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine pumpkin puree, brown sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla.
- Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.
- Pour or ladle batter – it will be thick – onto a buttered griddle or skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once. Serve with butter, syrup, and whipped cream.